Olympic torch relay set to launch with a woman as the first runner on March 12 for first time in history

Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in Olympic Games history, a woman will launch the renowned torch relay. Greece's Olympic committee chose Anna Korakaki, a Greek shooter who won gold in the 25m pistol and a bronze medal in the 10m air pistol at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, to start the quadrennial journey on March 12.

Spyros Capralos, Greece's national Olympic committee president, called the selection of Korakaki a "historic" moment, according to the Associated Press. The shooter will not only start the relay but also the opening Greek leg of the torch's journey that will last until March 17. Preceding the run will be a ceremony where an actress posing as an ancient Greek priestess will light the flame with a mirror and focus the heat of the sun's rays onto her torch. The actress will then pass the flame to Korakaki.

From there, the torch and flame will travel through Greece until it makes its way to the hands of Tokyo organizing officials at a ceremony in Athens. It will travel through Japan for 121 days. Here's the route described by the official Tokyo 2020 site.

The Relay will commence on 26 March 2020 in Fukushima Prefecture, and start its journey southwards. In early April, it will traverse the inland prefectures of central Japan, coinciding with the bloom of Japan's famous cherry blossoms, which typically bloom there in early April.

It will then proceed southwest until it reaches the islands of Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan, in early May. It will make its way back up to the north of the country, passing through Kyoto in late May, all the way up to Hokkaido, where it will arrive in mid-June. The Relay will then turn southwards again and complete its long journey in Tokyo after spending three days in each of the four prefectures outside of the capital that are hosting events during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The final torchbearer will reportedly also be a woman, a Greek pole vaulter named Katerina Stefanidi, who also won gold in Rio.

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